WHAT ARE THE POSADAS?
A little history
To understand the origin of the "Posadas", we have to go back to the times when the Spaniards arrived in Mexico and discovered the customs and traditions of the Aztecs.
The Aztecs believed that during the winter solstice, the old sun -Quetzalcoatl- came down to visit them. Forty days before the party, they dressed a slave as if he were Quetzalcoatl. The slave sang and danced to be recognized as the god Quetzalcoatl and the women and children offered him gifts. Nine days before the final party, two elders, representing the Aztec temple, humbled themselves before him and said: "Sir, you will know that nine days from now you will finish this work of dancing and singing because then you must die" . The slave had to answer: "Let it be in very good time".
On the day of the party, at midnight, after having honored the slave with music and incense as if he were god, his heart was removed and offered to the moon. That night and the following day, sacred rites and dances were celebrated in the Aztec temples, representing the arrival of Quetzalcoatl, in which offerings were offered and human sacrifices.
The Aztec people also celebrated the festivities in honor of Huitzilopochtli from December 6 to 26. Flags were placed on the fruit trees. The Aztecs met in the courtyards of the temples around bonfires to await the arrival of the winter solstice. On December 24th at night and the next day, there was a house party. Food was shared and small statues called "tzoatl".
The Spanish missionaries who came to Mexico in the late sixteenth century took advantage of all these religious customs to give the Aztec festivals a Christian meaning that would serve as preparation to receive Jesus on Christmas Day. In 1587, the superior of the convent of San Agus-tin de Acolman, Fray Diego de Soria, obtained permission from Pope Sixtus V to celebrate masses called "de aguinaldos" from the 16th to the 24th of December. In these masses were depicted Christmas scenes. To make them more attractive they used sparklers, rockets, Christmas carols and, later, the "piñata" was added; there-fore, it was in San Agustin de Acolman where Posadas began to be celebrated.
The missionaries summoned the people in the courtyard of churches and convents to pray a novena that began with the mysteries of the Rosary, accompanied by songs and Gospel representations about the coming of the child Jesus and the pilgrimage of Joseph and Mary of Nazareth to Bethlehem to register.
The Posadas lasted nine days prior to the celebra-tion of the birth of the Son of God, symbolizing the nine months of Mary's waiting. At the end of the Posadas, the friars distributed to the assis-tants fruit and sweets as a sign of the graces that would receive those who accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
How are the inns celebrated today?
With time, the Posadas began to be celebrated in the neighborhoods and in the family houses, becoming even more popular. Las Posadas begins with the recitation of the Rosary, which is followed by the songs of those who ask for a place to rest and those who offer it. The attendees who ask for posada are grouped outside the house or church, along with two children who identify themselves as Mary and Joseph or who carry pictures of Mary and Joseph, the pilgrims going to Bethlehem.
At the end of the song, the group that asks for "posada" enters the house or the church. The pilgrims are welcomed by the group that is inside. The celebration continues with a mass and with the singing of carols; finally, a meal is shared and the piñatas are broken and the "aguinaldos" are distributed.